Wood stove exchange program turfs ‘old smoky’ in Trail

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary recently received $11,560 to tempt people in Trail to trade in their smoky old wood stoves.

The season for old smoky in Trail is numbered.

And no, this isn’t a campaign to do something about the Trail Smoke Eaters’ current sub-.500 season, it is about replacing old wood stoves with more efficient new ones and clearing the air.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary recently received $11,560 from the provincial wood stove exchange program to tempt people in Trail to trade in their smoky old wood stoves for a high-efficiency model or other clean-burning appliances.

What that means for the average owner of a suspect stove is a $250 rebate from the regional district on the purchase of a new wood stove, insert, pellet stove or gas stove/fireplace. Dealers, manufacturers and suppliers may also offer additional discounts.

The idea behind the program is to replace the old inefficient stoves with new high-efficiency wood stoves, proven to burn one third less wood, reduce emissions by up to 70 per cent and significantly reduce the risk of chimney fires.

The new stoves will also help clear the air in Trail. Wood smoke is known to contain tiny particles called particulate matter (PM) — around 2.5 microns or less in diameter — small enough to be breathed into the deepest parts of the lungs.

Particulate matter is associated with all sorts of health problems, from a runny nose and coughing, to bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, heart disease and even premature death.

Earlier this year, the province provided $200,000 to the BC Lung Association to continue and expand the successful wood stove exchange program into 2012.

To further reduce the amount of particulate matter in the air in Trail, people are asked to burn only dry, seasoned wood (it burns best). The wood should be seasoned by splitting and stacking it in the spring. As well, wood piles should be protected from rain and snow, but still have good air circulation.

Other tips include:

• Burn only clean, dry wood. Never burn green, wet, painted or treated wood – including plywood. Never burn household garbage.

• Create small, bright fires by using small pieces of kindling to start the fire and keep it moderately hot, adding larger pieces of split wood as required. Do not damper down the fire more than necessary because that produces more smoke.

• Watch for signs of incomplete burning, such as visible smoke coming from the chimney or long, lazy flames in the firebox. Opening the dampers will allow more air into the stove and improve the fire’s efficiency.

• Where possible, avoid burning on poor air quality days (www.bcairquality.com/readings).

Further rebates are available through:

• the LiveSmart BC Efficiency Incentive Program: www.livesmartbc.ca/incentives/efficiency-home/index.html

• the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit grants: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/grants.cfm